*Always Rejoice; Pray; Give thanks
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing…give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB
“Rejoice always” in uninterrupted happiness in God. “Pray without ceasing,” which is the fruit of “always rejoicing” in the Lord. “In everything give thanks,” which is the fruit of both the former. This is Christian perfection. Further than this we cannot go, and we need not stop short of it.
Our Lord has purchased joy, as well as righteousness, for us. It is the very design of the gospel that, being saved from guilt, we should be happy in the love of Christ.
Prayer may be said to be the breath of our spiritual life. One who lives cannot possibly cease breathing. So much as we really enjoy of God’s presence, so much prayer and praise do we offer up “without ceasing”; else our rejoicing is but delusion.
Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it. One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them only for His sake—not choosing nor refusing, liking nor disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.
“For this,” that you should thus rejoice, pray, give thanks, “is the will of God,” always good, always pointing at our salvation!
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
Wesley bases this fifteenth lesson on prayer on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Let us read it in context from verse 14 through 22: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
When we look closely at this, we notice that verses 16-18 are sandwiched between references to good and evil on both ends. On one end, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people,” and on the other, “hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The remedy for evil and the prescription for good seems to rest in “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The book of Psalms, in particular, gives us many examples of the propriety of thanksgiving to God as a believer. Here are a few random passages:
Psalm 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 95:1-3 O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God And a great King above all gods,
Psalm 100:4-5 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Only when we know God is in control can we offer praise in any state we find ourselves. As Wesley says, “This is Christian perfection. Further than this we cannot go, and we need not stop short of it.” Amen